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The Deities of the Sacred Axe

Author(s): Margaret C. Waites


Source: American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1923), pp. 25-56
Published by: Archaeological Institute of America
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/497531 .
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Srcbaeologica1
Jnstitute
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THE DEITIES

OF THE SACRED AXE

IN this paper, I shall attempt to explain the symbol of the


double-axe with special reference to the religions of Greece and
Asia Minor. After examining the origin, meaning, and application of the symbol, I shall proceed to point out its possible
utility in the interpretation of the complicated mysteries of the
Cabiri.
The importance of the double-axe as a sacred symbol in ancient Crete is too well-known to require discussion. It will
suffice to mention here some of its more conspicuous manifestations. Axes appear, for instance, inscribed on the corner-stones
and door-jambs of the palace at Cnossus, as well as on two columns perhaps erected as aniconic images.' They occur again
embedded in the sides of pillars on one of the palace frescoes; 2
they are wedged as votive offerings in the stalactite pillars of
the- Dictaean cave.3 On a larnax from Palaikastro, a slender
column supports the double-axe with the sacred horns; 4 the
sarcophagus from Hagia Triada shows axes placed on pillars which
are covered with foliage.5
The same symbol is frequently found on Minoan pottery,6 and
occurs on stones and gems, such as the steatite lentoid found at
Cnossus,7 and the agate intaglio of the bull's head from between
1J.H.S. XXI, 1901, pp. 110 f. For the view that the axes are masons'
marks, see Burrows,Discoveriesin Crete,pp. 110 ff.
2 B.S.A. X, 1903-1904, p. 43.
3B.S.A. VI, 1899-1900, p. 100.
4 B.S.A. VIII, 1901-1902, p. 299, pi. XVIII.
* Von Duhn, according to Cook (Trans. of the Third
Internat. Cong.for the
Historyof Religions,II, p. 189). For a differentview, cf. Paribeni, Rend. Acc.
Lincei (Serie 5), XII, 1903, p. 344.
6 So at
Cnossus: B.S.A. VII, 1900-1901, pp. 52 ff.; VIII, 1901-1902, pp.
103-106; IX, 1902-1903, p. 114. At Gournia: Gournia, Vasiliki, and Other
PrehistoricSites (Excavations of the Wells-Houston-CrampExpeditions, 1908),
pp. 42, 53, 60; pls. I, 2, K, and VII, 26. It is, of course,possible that in some
cases such motifs have become purely decorative.
7B.S.A. VIII, p. 102, fig. 59.
American Journal of Archaeology, Second Series. Journal of the
Archaeological Institute of America, Vol. XXVII (1923), No. 1.

25

26

MARGARET

C. WAITES

the horns of which rises the axe.1 On the great gold signet from
Mycenae 2 it is inserted above the group of the seated goddess
and handmaidens. Finally a small shrine in the palace at Cnossus
contained a double-axe of steatite leaning against a pair of horns,
and possible traces of two others originally inserted between the
branches of this pair of horns and of a corresponding one upon
the other side."
In connection with the prominence of the double-axe in
Cretan worship, Mayer has plausibly suggested 4 that labrys and
labyrinthos are etymologically related, and Evans has conjectured
that the labyrinth may have derived its name, "the House of the
Double-Axe", directly from the worship of the axe-fetish.5 A
vase from Cyprus, where the worship of Zeus Labranios occurs,
repeats the symbol."
Though in many of the cults of Asia Minor the axe survived
as the special attribute of Zeus, the predominance of the female
over the male element in divinity, manifested in the religions of
both Crete and Anatolia,7 makes it antecedently probable that
the axe originally belonged rather to the Mother-Goddess than
to the Father-God.8 And, in fact, the presence of three female
1 B.S.A. IX, p. 114, fig. 70.
J.H.S. XXI, 1901, p. 108, fig. 4. For an example from the Tiryns treas-

ure, see 'ApX. Ad~r. II, 1917, pp. 13 ff. Compare also the mould from Siteia
('E4. 'ApX. 1900, p. 26, pl. 4), and the clay sealing from Zakro (J.H.S. XXII,
1902, p. 78, fig. 5, No. 6) where the form of the labrys resembles the type on
the Mycenaean signet.
3 B.S.A. VIII, 1901-1902, p. 101, fig. 57.
4 Jb.

Arch. I. VII, 1892, p. 191.

5 J.H.S. XXI, 1901, p. 109, n. 7.


6 Evans, op. cit.
p. 107, fig. 3. Despite its prevalence, the axe-symbol is not
a purely Minoan development, for a single axe was the ancient Egyptian character denoting divinity. A "Priest of the Double-Axe" is twice reported from
the Fifth Dynasty, while the Twenty-Sixth produced a priest of "Ha of the
Double-Axe".
See references given by Cook (Trans. of Third Internat. Cong.
for the Hist. of Religions, II, 1908, p. 184), and compare also Evans, The Palace
of Minos, I, p. 15. Schweitzer, Herakles, Aufsitze zur gr. Religions-und Sagengeschichte (Tilbingen, 1922) suggests, pp. 21 ff. and p. 30, n.5, that we should
look to the Carians, or rather to the great stock of which the Carians were a
remnant, for the origin of the axe-cult. Schweitzer's interesting and suggestive
monograph was called to my attention only after the text of this article was

written.
7 Ramsay, in Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, extra vol. 1904, p. 122.
8 So Evans, who associates the axe-fetish with the cult of Zeus, declares
rather inconsistently (B.S.A. VII, 101 f.): "The presence of the female idols

THE DEITIES

OF THE SACRED

AXE

27

idols, among which is the Dove-Goddess, together with the steatite double-axe and possible traces of two more axes in the shrine
at Cnossus; the steatite lentoid with a double-axe of the reduplicated pattern in the hands of what seems to be a female divinity;
the schist mould from Palaikastro,' with the figure of a goddess
holding a double-axe in each hand (Fig. 1); the seal impressions
from Hagia Triada where the attendants of the goddess carry
the axe; 2 the association of the symbol with the Snake-Goddess

FIGURE

1.--SCHIST

MOULD OF GODDESS
FROM PALAIKASTRO.

WITH

DOUBLE-AXE:

on the same base as the Sacred Horns and Double-Axe seems to show that this
symbolic weapon was associated here with the cult of a Goddess as well as a
The Double-Axe, the proper emblem of the Male God, was also
God.
and there are indications that of the two
common to the Goddess
.
.
it was Rhea who took precedence in Minoan cult." In The Palace of Minos,
p. 447, I am gratified to find the bolder statement: ". . . Taken in connection with the traces of Minoan religion in its prevailing aspect, not at Knossos
alone, but throughout the length and breadth of Crete, it is clear that the
special aniconic form of the supreme Minoan divinity, as of her male satellite,
was the Double-Axe."
1 B.S.A. IX, p. 92; 'E4. 'Apx. 1900, pl. 4.
2 B.S.A. IX, p. 60.

28

MARGARET C. WAITES

at Gournia,;1 and finally the appearance of the double-axe on


the gold signet from Mycenae above the seated goddess and her
worshippers,-all confirm the impression that the axe indicates
predominantly the power of the Mother.2 Even the votive axes
of the Dictaean and Idaean caves may remind us that in both
Zeus was worshipped as the divine son, and therefore subordinate, of the divine mother. On the other hand, I have found no
cases in Cretan worship where the double-axe is obviously the
attribute of a male divinity only.3
To understand the meaning of such a cult, we may remember
the well-nigh universal use of the axe among primitive peoples
to denote thunder and the thunder-deity,4 recalling also the fact
that Cretan votive axes are marked with zig-zag lines which may
well denote lightning.5
In tracing the use and development of the thunder-stone,
Blinkenberg has shown how the peoples of eastern Asia Minor,
Assyria, and North Syria who employed the single-edged axe
instead of the Minoan weapon, conferred their own peculiar tool
upon their thunder-deities. A third thunder-weapon, the Babylonian trident, must, as he explains, also be taken into consideration, together with its Assyrian development, the double trident,
which in its turn became the Greek keraunos. Both these forms
of the thunder-weapon may have been affected by the doubleaxe.6
Lastly, where the spheres of influence approach each other,
1 In the shrine of the Snake-Goddesswas discovered a fragment of a pithos
on which a double-axe and a disk had been modelled in relief (Annual Reports
of the Board of Regentsof the SmithsonianInstitute, 1904, pl. II, fig. 1, p. 570;
Gournia,p. 47, pl. XI, 8). For the probable identity of Snake-Goddessand
Mother-Goddess,cf. B.S.A. IX, pp. 85 f; Palace of Minos, p. 500.
2 SO Mosso (Mem. Acc. Lincei, Serie
5a, XII, 1909, p. 510) characterizes,
as the sole object of ancient Minoan worship, "il grande mistero della natura
feconda e della terra madre della vita. Quando i Cretesi sentirono il bisogno
di avere un simbolo della divinita ed un oggetto che la rappresentasse,scelsero
il simulacroreligioso della scure a doppio taglio .
.
3 If I am right, Farnell is mistaken when he says (Greeceand Babylon,p. 93),
that the double-axein Minoan palaces belongs to the thunder-god,though occasionally the goddess might borrowit.
in Religion and Folklore,passim.
4 Cf. Blinkenberg, The Thunder-Weapon
6 B.S.A. VII, p. 53, fig. 15.
6 A letter to an Assyrian king mentions the double-axe as carried for Dilbat
(the planet Venus, identified with Ishtar). See Jastrow, Religion Babylonlens und Assyriens, II, 616, n. 9; Delitzch, Beitrige zur Assyriologie, II, 31 f.

THE DEITIES OF THE SACRED AXE

29

as in the Hittite country, we find combinations of the single axe


and the trident-like weapon, both of which are carried by the
Hittite thunder-god,' whereas his descendant, Jupiter Dolichenus,
bears the double-axe and the keraunos. The trident, indeed, appears on the coins of Carian Mylasa 2 together with the doubleaxe. It is found also in Crete, though apparently only as a
mason's mark,3 and here, too, in one case,4 a trident is combined
with a double-axe. As, however, the trident in this instance has
sometimes been interpreted as a branch, I shall later attempt another explanation of the compound character, which indeed may
be quite devoid of religious significance.5
As Blinkenberg points out,6 the thunder-stone, at first represented by the stone axe, was replaced when this implement
went out of use by the double-axe of bronze peculiar to the culture of the Minoan sphere of influence, including western Asia
Minor. When the double-axe had once become established in
cult, there was doubtless strong reason for its retention. For
the Goddess-Mother, as the supreme source of life, unites in
herself the male and the female elements, and such a combination
finds appropriate expression in the double-axe.7 Then, too, if
1 Blinkenberg,op. cit. fig. 12.

Blinkenberg,op. cit. figs. 22 and 23.


VIII, 1901-1902, p. 10; cf. IX, p. 101.
4B.S.A. X, 1903-1904, p. 28.
2

3 B.S.A.

SThe heaven-god, TdcvKptlracvs,

appears with the lightning-bolt on coins

of Domitian (Milani, Studi e Materiali I, 1), but this evidenceis, of course,too


late to be significant.

6Op.cit.p. 24.

SThis solution of the symbol is suggested by Legge, Forerunnersand Rivals

of Christianity,II, 67, n. 3. It seems fairly well establishedthat the sex-aspect


of the primitive earth-goddess was so unstressed that she was virtually regarded as genderless. The double-axewould express the next stage in primitive thought; the two necessary elements for procreationare recognized, but
the Mother, the source of life, combines them. It is convenient, but not altogether correct, to use of such a combinationthe word "bisexual," for that
implies an artificial conception, whereas the process was in reality the gradual
emergencefrom primitive vagueness of the idea of the divine. In Caria and
Cyprus, disgusting legends arose from the supposedly androgynousnature of
the supreme deity, but these are the exception .rather than the rule. The
"bearded Ishtar", often misinterpreted as bisexual, has been shown by
Jastrow (RevueArchdologique,
XVII, 1911, pp. 271 ff.) to be a phrase derived
from the streaming rays of the planet Venus. The goddess-motherwas one
and yet two, as later she became one and yet a trinity. Cf. Ramsay, Cities
and Bishopricsof Phrygia, p. 93: "The distinction of sex is not . .
an

MARGARET C. WAITES

30

before the axe became associated with the thunder-god, it denoted the Great Mother's power over the sky and the lightning,
the double form may have seemed an appropriate symbol of a
deity who united with this function the protection of the earth
and the fruits of the earth.'
It would be gratifying if we could support the hypothesis
that the double-axe was originally the property of a goddess by
evidence of its use outside Crete in this capacity, even when it
has become predominantly the attribute of the heaven-god, her
partner. Further, we should expect to find traces of the presence
of the goddess when the axe has been replaced by the thunder-bolt.
Lastly, if the double-axe in reality denoted a deity regarded as
uniting male and female elements, we may look for some reflection of this belief on the monuments where the symbol and its
developments occur.
a) The Double-axe as the Property of a Goddess.
Double-axes of geometric date were discovered in the shrine
of Artemis Orthia at Sparta; similar offerings were made to
Artemis of Lusoi.2 An inscription of the third century B.c.
from the Asclepieum of Cos mentions a double-axe as a holy
implement used in the service of Demeter.3 The local Demeter
of Mostene in Lydia 4 bears the double-axe, as does the divine
ultimate and fundamental fact of the divine life: the god and the goddess,
the Son and the Maiden, are mere appearancesof the real and single divine
life that underliesthem."
1Evidence that the Mother as the original deity was regardedas controlling
heaven as well as earth may, perhaps, be found in the shadowy and purely
theological nature of the Babylonian heaven-god, Anu, who has no great local
cult except at Erech, the cult-centre of the mother-goddess. Compare also
titles like that given to the Sumerian mother-goddess,galan anna gaban anki-a-ge, "The heavenly queen, queen of heaven and earth" (Langdon,Tammuz
and Ishtar, p. 88, who, however, explains the title 'queen of heaven' as merely
theological and secondary, ultimately meaning the female principle of Anu,
the heaven-god), As to the solarpower of the Minoan goddess, consult Evans,
Palace of Minos, p. 479. For evidence of the power of mother-goddessesover
the heavens, comparethe Egyptian Isis and Hathor, exampleswhich may have
exercised influence on Crete. See Palace of. Minos, p. 509 f., and Roeder in
Pauly-Wissowa, Realencycl. s.v. Isis, p. 2101.
2 B.S.A. XIII, 1906-1907, p. 116, fig. 6e; Jh. Oest. Arch. I.
49, figs. 67-68; Schweitzer, op. cit. p. 38.

3 Schweitzer, loc. cit.


4 Brit.

Mus. Cat. Lydia, p. LXXVI and pl. XVII, 9.

IV, 1901, p.

THE DEITIES OF THE SACRED AXE

31

horseman also worshipped in the town. The city-goddesses of


Nysa in Caria and Anazarbus in Cilicia'1 follow her example.
On an alliance coin of Thyatira and Smyrna, Smyrna is represented as an Amazon holding the double-axe and pelta.2 Another coin of Thyatira 3 shows on the reverse a standing Amazon,
clad in a short double chiton. Her right hand holds a spear,
her left, the double-axe.
The ordinary type of double-axe was usually replaced in representations of the Amazons during classical times by the sagaris,
a sort of pickaxe ascribed to them by Xenophon.4 Near Dindymus flowed the river Sangarius, whose daughter was, according
to one version,5 the mother of Attis.6 The river derived its
name from Sagaris, son of Mygdon, who maddened by Cybele for
despising her rites, sought death in its waters.' Lastly, the
nymph Sagaritis was the cause of the unfaithfulness of Attis, at

1Imhoof-Blumer, Lydische Stadtmiinzen,p. 110, No. 16; Kleinasiatische


Miinzen,433, No. 7. Cf. Ioannes Schitfer,De love apud Caresculto (Diss. Hal.
XX, 1912), p. 369, n. 1.
2 Brit. Mus. Cat. Lydia, p. 321 (GordianusPius).
On coins of the Roman
Empire, the eponyms of many cities of Asia Minor are representedas Amazons
armed with the double-axe. So Smyrna (W. Leonhard,Hettiteru. Amazonen
(1911), p. 71, n. 4); Cyme (Brit. Mus. Cat. Troas, p. 121, pl. XXIV, 3);
Aegae (Mionnet III, p. 3, No. 9), Kliigmann, 'Ueber die Amazonend. kleinas.
Staidte', Philologus,XXX, 1870, p. 545; Phocaea (Brit. Mus. Cat. Ionia, p. 225,
No. 152); Magnesia ad Sipylum (Kliigmann,op. cit. p. 530); Cibyra (Brit. Mus.
Cat.Phrygia,p. 140, No. 52, pl. XVII, 5; Ancyra (Brit. Mus. Cat. Galatia,p. 9,
No. 6, pl. II, 4); Mazaca (Leonhard,op. cil. p. 75).
3 Imhoof-Blumer,Lydische Stadtmzinzen, pl. VI, 29; type identical with that
of Smyrna on coins of Domitian's time. The city-god of Thyatira, a combination of Apollo and Tyrimnus, bears the double-axe (op. cit. p. 151). A
female rider, carrying the double-axe, is found on coins of Apollonia Salbace
(Brit. Mus. Cat. Caria, p. 54, 2). The reverse of a coin of Heraclea Salbace
(R. Num. XVI, 1851, p. 242) shows an Amazon, with patera in right hand and
bipennis in left, standing between Artemis and a veiled goddess.
6Anab. IV, 4, 16; Leonhard,op. cit. p. 117; see also infra, p. 39.
5 Arnob. Adv. nat. 5, 6.
6 It is possible that Cybele was called Dindymene because the double-peaked
mountain symbolized to the ancients, like the double-axe, the twofold nature
of the goddess. For a differentexplanation, cf. Eisler, 'Kuba-Kybele' (Philologus, LXVIII, 1909, p. 190, n. 202). The name Cybele itself is derived by
6
Eisler (op. cit. p. 126, n. 27) from
(Etym. Magn. 542,
Kvpr31"X' ,acvTKs 7rThEKUv
n. 47). Cf. also Sittig, De Graecorum nominibus theophoris (Diss. Hal. XX,

1912), p. 148.
7 Plut. De fluv. 12, 1.

32

MARGARET C. WAITES

once divine son and divine lover, to the goddess-mother.' Heracles gave the labrys he had captured from the queen of the Amazons to Omphale 2 who by her very name, the Naval Stone,3
shows her connection with the Great Goddess. According to
Appian (De Bell. Civ. 1, 97), Sulla dedicated to the goddess
Aphrodite at Aprodisias a golden wreath and an axe. The
axe bore this inscription:
'QS etsov KaT'

'Acpoeiry,
"Apeos /.apva/Ehlv

Tb6ve oL
,
ZiXas
PEOrt7K
aoTOKpLrTp
TTEOXEL
p,
v& UrpartL~Y t'brovoCrL
roT
6,tpov

,voi'Xov.4

b) The presence of the goddess is manifest even when the axe has
been replaced by the thunderbolt.
Athena 6 bears the thunderbolt on coins of Athens, Syracuse,
Epirus, the Locrians, and Macedonia,6 as well as on coins of Domitian and on those of the kings of the house of Antigonus. In
the Eumenides, she declares that she alone knows the way to the
chamber where the lightning is kept.' Her head occurs on the
obverse with the bolt as the reverse-type on coins of Olympus,s Metropolis in Ionia,9 Parium,'o Lesbos,'1 and Amastris.'2 Similarly,
Iuno Caelestis is armed with the bolt on Carthaginian coins.'3
On the coins of Marium in Cyprus,'4 the head of Aphrodite on
1Ov. Fast. IV, 221 ff.
Plut., Quaest. Gr. 45, 301 F. Captured from Omphale'sdegenerate descendant, Candaules, the axe, according to Plutarch, was conferredupon the
image of Zeus 'Labrandeus.'
3 Eisler, op. cit. p. 139.
SCf. Brit. Mus. Cat. Caria, p. 39, No. 89 (reverse-type=axe bound with
fillet); as obverse-type, cf. coins of Plarasa and Aphrodisias (Brit. Mus. Cat.
p. 25, No. 1).
5 Roscher, Lex. Myth., s.v. Athene,p. 677.
6 Preller, Gr. Myth.' 1, p. 215.
7 L1. 827 ff.
s Brit. Mus. Cat. Lycia, p. lxvi.
9 Brit. Mus. Cat. Ionia, p. 175, No. 1.
'oBrit. Mus. Cat. Mysia, p. 100, No. 64.
" Brit. Mus. Cat. Troas, etc., p. 171, No. 1. The coins of Seleucia Pieria,
where Appian tells us (Syr. 58); the thunderbolt was worshipped,present the
Tyche of Seleuciafor the obverse,with the thunderbolton the reverse. Lajard
(Cultede V~nus,pl. V, No. 5), gives a coin of Gabala, a middle bronze of the
reign of Commodus,on which to the right is seen a seated goddess with turreted
crown and horn of plenty, while beside her stands another, armed with shield
and bipennis, with the foreparts of two horses protruding at her feet. See
Mionnet, Descriptionde Med. ant. V, p. 236, No. 640.
' Brit. Mus. Cat. Pontus, Paphlagonia,etc., p. 84, No. 4, pl. XIX, No. 5.
13Roscher, Lex. Myth. II, 1, p. 613.
14 Brit. Mus. Cat. Cyprus,p. lxi.
2

THE DEITIES

OF THE SACRED

AXE

33

the obverse corresponds to the bolt on the reverse; in the Pisidian


city of Cremna, the head of Artemis is used for the obverse; ' at
Lampsacus,2 we find on the obverse the head of the veiled Demeter, and on the reverse the bolt with the forepart of a winged
horse beneath it; in Lesbos,3 a female head of the type of Hera
for the obverse with the bolt on the reverse.
An imprecation inscribed upon a grave of Citium in Cyprus
mentions not only the thunder-god, Keraunios, but the
thunder-goddess, Keraunia.4
c) The deity of the doubleaxe appears in double form
on the coins of Tenedos5
where janiform heads, one
male and one female, occupy
FIGURE 2.-COIN
OF TENEDOS.
the obverse, while the doubleaxe is represented on the reverse (Fig. 2). On the only exception,6 a female head identified as Artemis, a form of the mothergoddess, is substituted on the obverse.
A few examples which may properly be called bisexual appear.
J. T. Wood (Discoveries at Ephesus, p. 270, fig. B; cf. p. 271, and
Schfifer, op. cit. p. 353) cites a small marble statuette from Mylasa
which exhibits a figure very like that of Zeus Labrandus, holding
a staff and a double-axe. The many breasts of the divinity prove
its androgynous nature. The same Zeus, this time in a tetrastyle
temple, adorns a coin of Mylasa of the, time of Geta.7 Near the
temple of Athena Alea at Tegea, Ada and Idrieus, brother and
sister of Mausolus and Artemisia, erected a marble stele s representing a Zeus holding spear and bipennis. The six breasts of
this figure relate it to those previously discussed. Other indications that the wielder of the double-axe was sometimes of double
Bri'. Mus. Cat. Lycia, Pamphylia, and
lB.
Pisidia,.p. 302,
Brit. Mus. Cat. Mysia, p. 87, No. 74.
3 Brit. Mus. Cat. Troas, etc., p. 171, No. 2.
4Le Bas-Waddington, VII, N. 2739, Explic. p. 635; Usener, Rh. Muis. LX,
1905, p. 14.
5 Cf. 'The Meaning of the Dokana', A. J.A. XXIII, 1919, p. 10.
6
Brit. Mus. Cat. Troas, Aeolis, and Lesbos, p. 93, pl. XVII, 11.
7Foucart, Des associations religieuses chez les Grecs, p. 106 f., and 'The
Meaning of the Dokana,' p. 10, n. For other examples see Mon. Piot, XVIII,
1910, pp. 164 f.
s Mon. Piot, XVIII, 1910, pp. 145 ff.
1

MARGARET C. WAITES

34

sex are afforded by the coins of Euromus 1 and by a small stele


found near Nacoleia.2
More natural, however, than the bizarre concept of a deity who
unites in a single person the attributes of both sexes, and more
developed than the simple thought of a virgin mother with her
divine son, is the idea of a division of the divine nature between
a god and a goddess who, together with their child, form a natural
trinity, glorifying and repeating on their divine plane the life of
the human family.3
That such a process has often actually taken place, numerous
myths and cult-practices will testify. At times in such a combination the male element, father-son, will predominate; under
other circumstances the original preeminence of the female
(mother-daughter) is retained.4
With the accentuation of the paternal element in the combination, it would be natural that the double-axe should pass to
the Great Father and that with it he should usurp the functions
of thunder-god. A transition stage, in which the subordination
of the male wielder of the axe to the Great Mother is still apparent, is perhaps indicated by the rock carvings at Boghaz Keui 5
in his smaller size and modest position behind the female divinity.
Sandas, the Cilician god of the double-axe, is also related rather
to the Hittite son-god than to the father-god,6 whereas in Jupiter
Dolichenus the concept of the father-god probably predominates.7
When the two sexes have been distinctly individualized, the
idea of the union between them, by which all life is rendered
possible, is often expressed by an lEp6s yhpos. Since, however,
the sky-god frequently assumes as his particular attribute the
1 Sch~ifer,p. 357; Mon. Piot, XVIII, 1910, p. 162; Brit. Mus. Cat., Caria,
p. 100, pl. 17, No. 8.
2
J.H.S. V, 1884, p. 257.
3 Cf. Ramsay, Cities and Bishopricsof Phrygia, II, p. 357: "The Carian type

of Zeus

was an androgynous conception,

corresponding to that

double characterof the divine nature, which was more commonlyrepresented,


even in Caria, by the divine pair.
. "
4 Ramsay in Hastings' Dict. of the Bible, extra vol. p. 122.
For similar evidence
b J. Garstang, The Land of the Hittites, p. 214, pl. 65.
of the subordination of the axe-god to the Great Mother, see Schweitzer
op. cit. figs. 5 and 6, and p. 33.
6 Cook, Zeus, A Study in AncientReligion,I, p. 598; Garstang,op. cit. pp. 195,
238, 240.
7 A. H. Kan, De loves Dolicheni Cultu, 1901, pp. 2 ff.; Cook, op. cit. p. 604;
Frazer, Adonis, Attis, Osiris, I, p. 136.

THE DEITIES

OF THE SACRED

AXE

35

double-axe,' it becomes possible to present in a cruder manner


the concept of the fertilization of the earth by the bolt of the
divine Father.
On a series of vases discussed by Furtwiingler,2 the gigantic
bust of the earth-goddess rising from the earth is attacked by
two men, usually represented as satyrs, who smite the head of
the colossus with vigorous hammer-strokes (Fig. 3). Furtwiingler's interpretation 3 is in the main that which I have suggested: "Die Schilderung der Ilias, wo Zeus die Hera ztichtigt
-

~~,,,,,,

rrrrr++

.~

I-

4~i+ i

?~

'd
-4
I

~'

r
Ir

~I

r,

FIGURE

3.-EARTH-GODDESS

ATTACKED

BY SATYRS.

und mit Schligen geisselt (II. 15, 17) wie die Erde mit Blitzen,
hat gewiss einen mythischen Hintergrund. Die Vorstellung
aber, die hier iiberall zu Grunde liegt, ist die eines die Erde mit
Unwetter bestiirmenden und so die Spride erweichenden Himmelsgottes. Und dieselbe Idee muss unseren Vasen zu Grunde liegen;
durch maiichtige SchlBige wird die grosse Gittin nach winterlicher Erstarrung im Friihjahr erweicht." A very interesting
parallel to the series examined by Furtwingler occurs on a vase
at Oxford (cited in Jb. Arch. I. XXVI, 1911, pp. 108 f., fig. 38),
where the painter has represented Pandora, half-risen from the
earth, extending her hands to Epimetheus who, with his hammer,
advances to meet her. Above her head flits an Eros (Fig. 4).
In such a concept lies, I think, the explanation of certain curious coin-types of Caria and Lycia. A coin of Aphrodisias " shows
1 Cf. astro-peliki, the modern Greek term for lightning.
2 Jb. Arch. I. VI, 1891, pp. 112 ff.
3 Jb. Arch. I. VI, 1891, p. 117.
4 Brit. Mus. Cat. Caria, pl. VI, No. 7.

36

MARGARET C. WAITES

on the reverse a leafless tree-trunk from which sprout three


branches. On either side appears a nude man with Phrygian
cap. The one on the left strikes at the tree with an axe, while
the other kneels on one knee or runs away in fright. One of the
vases mentioned above shows a Silenus about to run in similar
terror from the colossus of the earth-goddess.'
The reverse of a coin of Myra Lyciae 2 makes the idea still
clearer, for in the tree stands the cultus-image of a goddess
(Artemis Eleuthera? 3) wearing a modius and veil (Fig. 5). She

lrlll
????

j
C/
i/
"~

~a~Z~11~
t~~rn 89
FIGURE4.-EPIMETHEUSANDPANDORA:
VASEAT OXrFOnRD.

is attacked by two men with double-axes. From the roots of the


tree rise two serpents. The subject is perhaps connected with
the myth of Myrrha, mother of Adonis, who was changed into
a tree, and with the fancied derivation of the place-name
clr6 ,uApwOv.4

1Vase C, Furtwingler, op. cit. p. 115.


2

Brit. Mus. Cat. Lycia, pl. XV, 6 (Gordian III).


Brit. Mus. Cat. Lycia, p. 71.
SBrit. Mus. Cat. Lycia, p. liv.

THE DEITIES

OF THE SACRED

AXE

37

Both on the vases and on the coins the purpose of the smiters
in attacking the mother-goddess is plain. From each side of the
colossal head on vase B flies an Eros; Myrrha's father cleft her
tree with his sword, and the act gave birth to the child Adonis.'
It is, then, by a curious inverted
parallel that, when the prominence of
the male god has been fully established,
Hephaestus or Prometheus2 delivers
Zeus of the virgin goddess, Athena, by
cleaving his head with an axe. On the
other hand, a lingering survival of the
destructive fury exercised by the Great
Mother toward her lovers may be found
in the sacrifice of the bull, symbolizing FIGURE
OF MYRA
5.-COIN
the heaven-god, a sacrifice regularly
IN LYCIA.
accomplished by the double-axe.
In Crete, the union of the thunder-god with the earth-goddess
is as Cook has remarked,3 probably symbolized by the axes embedded in the twin pillars wreathed with foliage on the sarcophagus from Hagi'a Triada,4 and by the votive axes found in the
stalactite pillars of the Dictaean cave where Zeus was doubtless
worshipped in his double function of son and lover. It is, perhaps,
such a symbol that we should recognize in the "mason's mark"
combining a branch (or trident) with the double-axe. The
seven-branched tree, called the "donner-besen", mentioned by
1 Hyginus, Fab. 58, 251, 271; Serv. on Virg. Aen. V, 72.
Or Hermes or Palaemon (= Hephaestus).
See Rapp s.v. Hephaestus, in
Roscher, Lex. Myth. pp. 2060 ff.
p. 193.
STransactions,
SHere, however, it should be noted, the axes have a doubled edge on both
sides, so that the interpretation of them as representing a single deity is doubtful. It is possible that the pillars here should be regarded rather as the
wreathed shafts of the axes themselves (so Evans, B.S.A. X, 1903-1904, p. 43,
and Palace of Minos, p. 439), and that a quadruple or dual cult is indicated by
the reduplication of the blades. Paribeni interprets this reduplication as a
"kind of perspective rendering of axe-blades set crosswise with edges pointing
to the four corners of the earth." (Blinkenberg, op. cit. p. 21; Paribeni, Mon.
Ant. XIX, p. 31). It may be that in this position they were especially effective
as a charm to ward off lightning from any quarter. Miss Harrison (Themis,
p. 162), notes that the obelisks decorated with the "double-double-axes" on
the sarcophagus differ in that the one to the right is adorned with cross-stripes
and is considerably taller than the plain one on the left. She attributes this
to the fact that these obelisks represent male and female potencies.
2

38

MARGARET C. WAITES

Blinkenberg 1 as a protection against lightning, may be a relic


of the same tradition. In one instance,2 it is engraved upon an
axe of greenstone.
In art, the concept of the goddess of the double-axe could be
expressed in iconic form by a simple duplication. From such a
type would be derived the double Athenas seen on the coins of
Athens, Lampsacus, Syracuse, and Uxentum; 3 the double head
of Athena in the Capitoline Museum; 4 the relief found near
Athens representing two statues of Pallas side by side, standing
in a double chapel; s the two-bodied Hecates; the two enthroned
Cybeles; 6 the two "Mothers" worshipped at Engyion, Sicily, as
Cretan nurses of Zeus,7 and many similar examples. As Usener
notes,8 the older the work, the more complete the likeness of
the doubles.
To this sort of doubling would naturally succeed pairs, the
members of which differ in attributes and age. Such are the
well-known dyad of Demeter and Kore; the Heras at Plataea,
characterized as bride and wife; " the two Artemises, Ariste, a
goddess of the underworld, and Kalliste, goddess of the full
moon;10 the two Fortunes at Antium, perhaps distinguished as
war-goddess and matron."
When the paternal and maternal sides of the great divinity
have been somewhat differentiated, we have seen that either an
androgynous image may result, or a janiform head of which the
halves differ in sex, as on the coins of Tenedos. Apollo and
Artemis form a similar pair.
1
cit. p. 98.
2Op.
Op. cit. fig. 34.
3Usener, 'Dreiheit' (Rh. Mus. LVIII, 1903), p. 195. For a list of dyads,
see de Witte, Annali, XXX, 1858, pp. 79 ff.
4 Usener, 'Zwillingsbildung'(StrenaHelbigiana, 1900), p. 328.
6Usener, 'Dreiheit', p. 193; cf. Paus. IX, 17, 3. The statues differonly in
one detail of the Gorgoneion.
6 'Apx. 'E4. 1890, pp. 1-10, pl. 1, No. 6, p. 4.

7 'Dreiheit', pp. 192 f.


'Dreiheit', p. 204.
9 Paus. IX, 2, 7.
o10Paus, I, 29, 2; 'Dreiheit', p. 196.
11Roscher, Lex. Myth. I, 1548. Possibly with these should be grouped two
8

who sacrificed themselves during the attack of the Boeotian


'TaKxei0~es

Hapevo
army. (Suidas, s.v. lIapObo.) Their names, at least, Protogeneia and Pandora, are significant. The White Ladies of Delphi, Athena and Artemis
(Diod. 22, Frag. 9, 5; Cic. de div. 1, 37, 81) belong in the same category.

THE DEITIES OF THE SACRED AXE

39

With the predominance of the Father, we should expect the


development of another double type, this time of two like gods.
Such are the double head of the bearded Dionysus in the Vatican,' the two images of Heracles on bronze coins of Heraclea,2
and the heads of Janus on Etruscan, Campanian and Roman
coins, the connection of which the double-axe I have previously
attempted to prove.3
In the final stage, these male dyads are distinguished by age
or attributes. Usener has pointed to such significant compounds
as Zyowrooetea'v
in Caria,4 atbrav at Caesarea Panias,5 and the
Christian vio~rarwp.
If from the original goddess of the axe a trinity of deities, divine
father, mother, and child, was normally evolved, we should
conjecture that their sacred symbol would also be tripled, or,
in other words, that each of the trinity might be regarded as an
axe-deity. Evans sees evidence of a trimorphic cult in the celebrated dove-shrines at Mycenae,6 and in the three painted terracotta pillars surmounted by doves from a miniature shrine found
at Cnossus.7 The dove-goddess and the double-axe appear
together in the Shrine of the Double-Axes,8 so that the association of the axe and the trinity of columns seems possible.
The conjecture receives some confirmation from a fresco which
adorned the northwest hall of the palace at Cnossus. One section 9 of this fresco displays three wooden columns the sacred
character of which is attested by the horns set between their
bases. From the woodwork of each capital, protrude four doubleaxes, two on each side.'?
In the case of such a trinity, the axe is sometimes the emblem of
the father-god (Jupiter Dolichenus, the Carian Zeus, Prome1 Usener, 'Zwillingsbildung', p. 331.
2

'Dreiheit,' p. 197; Brit. Mus. Cat. Italy, p. 233, No. 56.


16.

3 'The Meaning of the Dokana,' p.


4 Athen. II, 42a; VIII, 337c.
5 Kaibel, Epigr. n. 827.
6

J.H.S. XXI, 1901, pp. 138 ff.


VIII, 1901-1902, pp. 28 f.; Palace of Minos, pp. 222 f.

7 B.S.A.

B.S.A. VIII, fig. 55.


9 B.S.A. X, 1903-1904, pl. II.
8

o10Possibly we should regard the trident as the symbol developed from the
bidens to serve as the special emblem of the trinity. The thunder-weapon
from which the trident is derived is sometimes bifurcal, though its later
conventional shape shows three prongs.

40

MARGARET C. WAITES

theus),' sometimes the possession of the deity who represents


the son-god (Teschub,2 Sandas, Dionysus 3).
The "family triad" of Father, Mother, and Child will be found
upon analysis at the basis of many of the cults which appear in
Hellenic worship.
I. Obviously to such trinities belong the triads:
1. Demeter, Kore, Pluto, elder triad at Eleusis; on throne of
Amyclaean Apollo (Paus. III, 19, 4); in a temple of Demeter on
the road from Mycenae to Argos (Paus. II, 18, 3). For further
references, cf. 'Dreiheit', p. 25.
The child of the Great Mother is often a mere duplication of the
Mother herself. So Ka-di is a title used either for the mother
or for her son Tammuz; Damu may signify either the son or
the mother; Kore and Demeter are really identical. Langdon
(Tammuz and Ishtar, p. 17) suggests that in the original legend
it may have been the Mother herself who yearly died and descended to the world below.
2. Demeter, Kore, Zeus Bouleus, who received sacrifice at
Myconus on the tenth Lenaeon. J. von Prott (Leges Graecorum
sacrae, Fasc. I, Fasti sacri, p. 16) explains that among the Ionians
this triad corresponds to the Peloponnesian triad Demeter, Kore,
Pluto.
3. Demeter, Clymenus (= Hades), Kore, chief gods of Hermione
(C.I.G., Pel. I, 691; C.I.A. II, 3, No. 1421).
4. Demeter, Kore, Zeus Eubuleus, at Arcesine on Amorgas
(Ath. Mitt. I, p. 334).
II. As a secondary development, the Goddess-Mother in
doubled form may appear with child or spouse:
1. Demeter, Kore, Ge, in the temple of Demeter at Patrae
(Paus. VII, 21, 12).
2. Demeter,Kore, Dionysus, in the temple of Demeter Eleusinia
at Thelpusa (Paus. VIII, 25, 3);in Iconium (C.I.G. 4000 (III, p.
69)) ; in the temple of Demeter Prostasia between Sicyon and Phlius
(Paus. II, 11, 3); at Epidaurus, (C.I.G., Pel., Nos. 1039, 1040).
In Orphic belief, "the earth-goddess was dualized into Demeter
and Kore, by whom Zeus begat the horned infant Dionysus." 4
1For the significanceof Prometheussee Cook, Zeus. I, pp. 323 ff.
E. Meyer, Reich u. Kultur der Chetiter, p. 90.
SFor Dionysus, 'Smiter of Men', representedon coins of Tenedos by the

double-axe,of. Cook, Zeus, I, p. 659.


4 Cook, Zeus I, p. 695.

THE DEITIES OF THE SACRED AXE

41

3. Zeus, Athena, Hera, in the Phocicum between Daulis and


Delphi (Paus. X, 5, 2).
4. Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, the Capitoline triad.
5. Athena, Amphitrite, Poseidon, in Corinth (C.I.G. Pel., I,
No. 265). The name Amphitrite is, as Gruppe well reminds us,'
connected with the Cretan goddess Trita, as well as with Triton,
son of Poseidon and Amphitrite, and with Tritogeneia, the
mysterious title of Athene. Amphitrite, like Athena, is the
paredros of the deity who was worshipped by the Philistines as
Dagon, and in Greek lands became Triton, Apollo Delphinius,
Poseidon, Zeus (Gruppe, II, 1202, 1122).2
6. Demeter, Kore, Artemis, in the temple of Demeter on the
acropolis of Phlius (Paus. II, 13, 5). In such triads, it is probable that the third goddess was a later addition to the pair consisting of mother-daughter. At Antiochia, a monthly sacrifice
was offered rots Oe[a]4[o46]poLsKai 'Apr4jU8L cmrd[pac](Inschr. v.

Magnesia, No. 80, 18 f.).


III. Virtually identical with these triads are the cases where
the Mother receives worship with two children who represent
the male and female halves of her own being. The commonest
instance is the triad of
1. Apollo, Leto, Artemis.3
IV. Under the probable influence of the patriarchal system,
the Father takes the place of the Mother.
1. Zeus, Apollo, Artemis. Zeus Acraeus, Apollo Coropaeus,
Artemis Iolcia are invoked in the oath of the Magnetes in Thessaly (Ath. Mitt. VII, 1882, p. 73); Zeus Sosipolis, Artemis Leucophryene, Apollo Pythius were the city-gods of Magnesia on the
Maeander (Inschr. v. Magnesia 98, 48 f.); Apollo, Artemis, Zeus
1 Gr. Mythol. u. Religionsges.II, p. 1143, n. 1.
Cf. the Sumerianmother Nina,-'lady of waters'. In Sumerianboth the
mother-goddessand Tammuz are called ulumgal, 'great serpent'.
3Apollo bears the axe on the coins of Thyatira, Eumeneia, and Hypaepa.
2

(Imhoof-Blumer, Kleinas. Mzz. 1, 173; Brit. Mus. Cat. Phrygia, pl. XXVII, 9;

Brit. Mus. Cat.Lydia, XLI, 5). Coins of Myson Abbaitis and Pergamumshow
an Apollo-headfor the obverse-type with a double-axein a laurel-wreathfor
the reverse (Brit.
Mus, Cat. Phrygia, pl. II, 3). It is probable that the god
of the labrysappearsas Apollo, Lairbenos,Sabazios, Men, and Attis, through-

out Asia Minor.

See Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, pp. 91, 133,

169. On a Roman bronze medallion from Smyrna, a priest of Apollo Erethemius (=Phoen. Rescheph) appears with the double-axe, Schweitzer, op. cit.
p. 31.

42

MARGARET C. WAITES

Megistus, chief gods of Iasus. (B.C.H. V, 1881, 497; R. Et. Gr.


VI, p. 156, 1).
2. Cronus, Hera, Zeus, images in a temple situated in the grove
of Trophonius at Lebadea (Paus. IX, 39, 4).
V. Very closely allied are the triads where the Father-Son-god
appears in doubled form.
1. Zeus, Athena, Apollo, e.g. II. B, 371. For the significance
of this triad, see Miss Harrison, Themis, pp. 500 ft., who rightly
remarks that we have in it a trinity of patriarchal deities, Phratrioi
Patrdoi, "projections, representations of patriarchy, pushed to
the utmost."
2. Prometheus, Athena, Hephaestus, in the Academy. Cf.
Apollodorus (Schol. Soph. O.C. 56): ZvrTLJ.arasa Kal V 'AKaitpiL
(i.e. 6 IHpo?1Oebrs),
KaO7rep 6 "H ato-ros. Ki~i artl a'roi
7r 'AOv6
KLL /3wj~6~v rc~ r7zEt~Yr~S EOe. LakEKPvrcL 16] KOdL
iraXcu6v i'pva
T
r TpO'O, TOz ,
lPot t
7xr
rroS
aL~s
Ka7
7 IIO
o
Kal
pxlaPa
7"
'7" 7"T
A
4lY)
70roi3
'H4CaLUrov.HelroLraL
(cjS Ka1 vLULSMXL7S
Hpo7Oe3bs
irpOrS

EP 8E4LL "HCfl7PTO oXWP, 0

Kato irPECrfyEPO
p
p,

bEIbrepos.

Kal

/w/bs

botV KOLPbSEVL

AtI

V 7

&

/aEL

6V4)/

WH4Cur,

PEOS

KaL

a
rOTET7UTC/YVoSO.

On Prometheus as an older form of Hephaestus, see Bapp in


Roscher's Lex. Myth. III, p. 3040. Both Hephaestus and Prometheus are reported to have officiated at the birth of Athena.
On Hephaestus as originally the spouse of Athena, cf. Gruppe,
op. cit. I, p. 27.
VI. Three forms of the Goddess-Mother may be united in a
triad:
1. The Triple Hecate (e.g. Aen. IV, 511).
2. The Three-Headed Artemis (Aen. IV, 511). For evidence
that the Minoan goddess could also appear in tripled form, see
Evans, Palace of Minos, p. 635.
3. The Three-Headed Persephone. See the incantation quoted
by Usener, 'Dreiheit', p. 167, where Persephone is called
rplKcpaVE

VvxLa irapOe.

4. The Three Gorgons. See Ziegler in Pauly-Wissowa, op. cit.


s.v. Gorgo.
5. Aphrodite, Athena, Artemis, on the pedestal of the image of
Amyclaean Apollo (Paus. III, 19, 4).
6. Despoina, Demeter, the Great Mother: To these three, altars
were dedicated in front of the temple of Demeter near Megalopolis (Paus. VIII, 37, 2 f). Despoina is the designation of
deities who are unmistakably forms of the Great Mother, like

THE DEITIES OF THE SACRED AXE

43

Artemis, Athena, Hecate, Cybele. In cult, the name is restricted


to chthonic goddesses, and particularly to the Arcadian deity
later identified with Kore.1 Pausanias, on the other hand, distinguishes between Persephone and the Mistress whose mystic
name he fears to impart. She is called daughter of Demeter
and Poseidon, and the few further facts which Pausanias tells
us, such as the union of the Mistress and Demeter in one double
statue, and the representation of the Curetes under the images
and of the Corybantes on the pedestal, substantiate the theory
that the Mistress is a mother-goddess.
VII. Three forms of the Father or Son Gods may likewise be
joined in a triad.
1. Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, on coins of Mytilene (Arch. Zeit.
1851, p. 508; Mionnet, Descr. III, 46, No. 102.)
2. The law of Solon prescribed an oath by three gods, sometimes regarded as Hicesius, Catharsius, Exacester (Pollux, VIII,
142). These deities are outgrowths of epithets of Zeus. So Zeus
Catharsius is found at Olympia (Paus. V, 14, 8); Zeus Hicesius
at Thera (I.G.I. III, 402 f). Of Exacester or Exacesterius,
6 Zebt Kal 4 "Hpa. Possibly
Hesychius
says:
'E~aKEOrTptoso
this deity had a special
value to Solon as the son of Exacestides.
3. Erechtheus (Poseidon), Butes, Hephaestus (Paus. I, 26, 5),
worshipped at three altars within the Erechtheum. Cook
(Class. Rev. XVIII, 1904, p. 85), has shown that Erechtheus
was regarded as a title of Zeus; that Butes was the ancestor of
the priests of Poseidon-Erechtheus; that Hephaestus, the celestial smith, is also a thunder-god. His conclusion is that the members of this triad are all probably forms of Zeus.
4. Hermes
(Isaeus in Harpocration, p. 293, 6 (Dind.);
TpKE~aXos
s.v.
Hesychius
'EpCis TpKEpaXos~;Lycophron, 680).
5. The Three-Headed Cronus. Cronus is the son of Gaea and
Uranus; 2 from him and Aphrodite all things are born; he is
often connected with the goddess of birth. Thus at Olympia
the sanctuary of Ilithyia was on Mount Cronius where Cronus
was worshipped.4
As a result of this investigation, it would seem that Usener's
1

Kern in Pauly-Wissowa, op. cit. s.v. Despoina, p. 252.

Hesiod, Theog. 137 f.


3Theopomp. Frag. 293.
4Paus. VI, 20, 1.

44

MARGARET C. WAITES

dictum 1 that usually not relationship but likeness of function or


mere accident lies at the basis of a triad, needs revision. Likeness of function is an important principle, but far more significant
is the family union of Father, Mother, Child. In fact, in the
case of a matriarchal society, it is probable that the development
of a deity like the Earth-Mother took place by the differentiation
of functions, so that out of her single person grew first the goddess of Sky and Earth, and then a concept like the triple Hecate.2
Besides the tripling of the axe-symbol and its consequent resolution into a trinity of deities, we must reckon with the retention
of the actual axe as an object of worship, together with the anthropomorphizing of its elements. We have seen such a process
taking place on the coins of Caria and Tenedos. If, moreover,
a consciousness of the fact that the sacred symbol represented
both male and female elements persisted, we must admit the
possibility of a quadruple cult, including a male deity, a female
deity, and a fetish combining the two sexes. A development of
this sort is perhaps suggested by the reduplication of the ends of
several sacral axes, on the significance of which, as indicating
in his opinion a dual cult, Evans has remarked.3
A combination so complicated as this would of course be capable of endless variations. As mother-goddess and father-god
each retained the double-axe for an attribute,4 we may infer that
1 'Dreiheit', p.

35.
Usener has given an illuminatinganalysis of the development of the triad
in Christianity. As he remarks, it illustrates, first, the almost irresistible
tendency toward the formation of a trinity which seems inherent in human
nature. The New Testament gives us only the dyad of Father and Son. To
this the rite of baptism added the Holy Spirit, and the accident of Aramaic
gender caused this Holy Spirit to become in popular belief the mother of
Christ. (For a criticism of this view, see Clemen, Primitive Christianityand
its non-JewishSources,tr. 1912, p. 206.) The gospel of John introduced the
conception of the Paraclete, thus forming a triad of three males. That this
in turn could be resolved is proved by the Apostolic Canon forbiddingbishop
or presbyter to baptise by three Fathers, Sons, or Paracletes. Finally, the
growing importance of the Virgin attests the continued faith in the Great
Mother which lingered among the people, while the popular tendency to the
"basic triad" is shown by the further groupingJesus, Mary, Joseph.
3 B.S.A. VIII, figs. 57, 59, 61, and pp. 101 f.; cf. Milani, St. M. I, pp. 197 f.
for a differenttheory, involving a quadruplecult. For the use of the quadruple
combinationof axe-bladesas a decorative symbol, see Evans, Palace of Minos,
2

p. 583.

On the inscription from Iconium (1. 15), Kore is called TErpaK6py.

Compare with the coins of Tenedos the statement of Apostolius (16, 26),
that the Tenedians honor two axes. See also Macarius, 8, 7.
4

THE DEITIES OF THE SACRED AXE

45

each of the four divinities of the possible quadruple cult might


be represented by the same sacred sign, remembering in this connection the four double-axes attached to the pillars of the frescoshrine, and the clay seal impression from the Room of the Archives
at Cnossus on which four double-axes are grouped round a
rosette.'
I have suggested, first, that the evidence at our command would
indicate that the double-axe, before it became the property of
the thunder-god, belonged to the great earth-goddess, and that
its form symbolized the union in her of male and female elements.
Second, I have discussed the double-axe as a symbol of the lepbs
between the goddess and her consort. Thirdly, I have
y~,o~
enumerated
some of the types to which the double-axe might
give rise in art: the simple doubling of a female deity; the differentiation on the basis of sex; the development of a male type
similarly doubled; and the tripling of the axe-symbol together
with the evolution of the sacred family-trinity. I have suggested
also the possibility of further and more complicated combinations
involving a quadruple cult.
All these suggestions will, I think, prove of use in dealing with
perhaps the most mysterious cult of antiquity,-that
of the
Cabiri or Megaloi Theoi,-for here, too, we shall find traces of
the worship of the Sacred Axe.
Lemnos. Aeschylus, the first authority to mention the Cabiri,
appears to have described them on Lemnos as friendly and
subordinate demons of fertility.2 The logographer, Pherecydes
of Leros,3 asserts that Hephaestus, chief god of Lemnos, was
the father of the three Cabiri and the three Cabiric nymphs by
Cabiro, daughter of Proteus, whereas his contemporary, Acusilaus of Argos, attributes their paternity to Cadmilus or Camillus,
himself the son of Hephaestus and Cabiro.
Samothrace. From Samothrace, in Hellenistic times the most
prominent centre of the Cabiric mysteries, we derive the most
satisfactory ancient account of the nature of the Cabiri. We
owe the information to the scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius I,
917: pvoovrac~u
7 Zapo
K rois
4nloi.
~ p2rX
KaplpoLs, cs Mvaoas

Kai rd

6Y,#vara

aGriv

1B.S.A. VIII, fig. 61.

r6v

TPOptU6v,,

2 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag. pp. 31 f.


3

Strabo, X, p. 472.

'AiLEpos 'A4LoKipoa

'AL6KEpo'oS.

MARGARET C. WAITES

46

4 lEpaEcf6pl,
pjEvo0v ErTLv Af/Lrlflp,
'ApL6KEpos
'AoLOKipoa
6
b
b
7rpoOr(Levos
TEClrapros KhOELXos 'Epj~Is i(7LV,
s
robs Kapelpovs 4aoi
8bo
EdVa
01. of
.
r0opel ALov0bV pos..
To this inforIrpeOaTbrepov .LV ALaC,Ve.7epov 1 AsLVUaoV.
"rpbrepov,
mation, the Etymologicum Gudianum adds: Kf3LpoL 8E eWLe8al/ovEs
7TV 'Phav OlK?1aVTES
Pliny, on the other hand,
Tv ZapopeLpK'v.
Tr"epf
b

'Alpos

6A b "AJ67s.

speaks L of Aphrodite and Pothos, qui Samothrace sanctissimis


caerimoniis coluntur. Lastly, to add to the confusion, in Hellenistic days the Cabiri of Samothrace were identified with the
Dioscuri.2

Imbros. On Imbros, the Cabiri were, according to Friedrich,3


associated with the Carian Hermes Imbramos or Casmilus, who,
however, probably occupied a separate shrine.
Macedonia. In the cult of Macedonia, appear three Corybantic brothers, the most important of whom, the Cabirus, par
excellence, was murdered by the other two. The assassins
buried the head under Mount Olympus, but ?transportedthe penis
in a cista to Etruria.4
Pergamum. "The country of the Pergamenes was of old, say
they, sacred to the Cabiri," reports Pausanias.5 Aristides calls
the Cabiri the oldest deities of Pergamum,6 and an oracle of Antoninian date declares that at Pergamum the Cabiri, sons of
Uranus, discovered the infant Zeus.7
Miletus. At Miletus, a curious legend was told s of two youths
from Phrygia, Tottes and Onnes, who brought help to the city,
i~pd

&VKLU'Ti KEKaX1C4pVa.
oXoVEs r&vKcaElpwV

Thebes. On the mainland of Greece, Thebes was the only city


in which the Cabiric worship attained a prominent place, though
Pausanias 9 gives us a significant notice in regard to Anthedon
where there was a shrine and grove of the Cabiri near the temple
of Demeter and the Maid. Near Thebes, Pausanias 'o saw a
1N. H. XXXVI, 25.
Diod. IV, 43; C.I.G. 2296; B.C.H. VII, 339, 4; 340, 5; 337, 3; OrphicHymn
XXXVIII; Serv. ad Aen. III, 12.
2

Ath. Mitt. XXXIII,

1908, p. 100.

Cf. Steph. Byz.: "I~ppos viiabs CaTT

OpK1ryS,tepd Kao3epWvKcal'Eppoi Qv"Ijqpajov Xyouanv oi Kapes.


4 Clem. Alex. Protr. 19.
6

I, 4, 6.
Or. LIII, ii, 469, Keil.
SInschr. v. Pergamum, II, p. 239.
8 F.H.G. III, 388, fr. 54.
9

IX, 22, 5.

10 IX,

25, 5.

THE DEITIES OF THE SACRED AXE

47

grove of Demeter Cabiria and Kore, though the actual shrine of


the Cabiri lay distant seven stades. An ancient city on the site,
Pausanias further informs us, was inhabited by people called
Cabiri, to one of whom, Prometheus, and his son Aetnaeus,
Demeter revealed herself and committed a sacred trust. Despite the fact that Pausanias uses the plural in speaking of the
Theban Cabiri, the dedicatory inscriptions are addressed in tihe
singular, to "the Cabirus". This Cabirus, identified with
Dionysus, as the offerings show, was worshipped with a divine
child, 6 raZsro70Kapepov.
The complicated reports of ancient authorities and the other
evidence which has come down to us may, perhaps, be summarized as follows:
(1) No definite number was associated with the Cabiri. They
appeared as four (on Samothrace, according to Dionysodorus); as
three (on Samothrace, before the addition of Casmilus; on
Lemnos, if Pherecydes and Acusilaus are to be believed; in Macedonia, though here the third brother is the Cabirus); as two (on
Samothrace, according to some authorities; on Lemnos, as
numismatic evidence proves;1 in Miletus, if Tottes and Onnes
were Cabiri; in Thebes, if the pais is to be reckoned as a Cabir).
One Cabir was predominant in the cults of Thebes and Macedonia. Furthermore, the Cabiri were at times conceived merely
as an indefinite number of irpbroXoL,
as at Lemnos, if Aeschylus
formed his chorus from them, and at Samothrace, if the account
in the Etymologicum Gudianum is correct.
(2) When the Cabiri appear as two, they may differ in age, as
at Thebes and Lemnos, or they may be represented, like the
Dioscuri, as twins.
(3) The Cabiri are associated particularly with Hephaestus
(on Lemnos), Dionysus (in Thebes and Samothrace), and the
Great Mother in her various manifestations (in Thebes and
Samothrace; cf. the representation of the Curetes and Corybantes
in connection with the images of Demeter and Despoina in the
temple near Megalopolis 2).
(4) They are identified and confused with various other attend1 For an older and a younger Cabir on the coins of Lemnos, see v. Fritze
Zeitschr.f. Numism. XXIV, 1904, 117, taf. v, Nos. 14 and 15.
2

See above, p. 43.

MARGARET C. WAITES

48

ant deities, such as the Curetes, the Corybantes, the Dioscuri,


the Idaean Dactyls, the Telchines,' and the Titans.2
In attempting to draw conclusions from this mass of evidence,
let me turn first to the most interesting and probably most
reliable ancient account, that of the scholiast on Apollonius
Rhodius.3 Here, though the scholiast knows of the existence of
four Cabiri, he mentions at first only three, adding to these on
the authority of Dionysodorus,4 the fourth, Casmilus or Hermes.
The names of the three, probably earlier and more important
Cabiri,-Axieros, Axiokersos, and Axiokersa,-are highly significant. Recent investigations into the nature of the Cabiri enable us to interpret Axieros as the sacred Axe,5 and Axiokersos
and Axiokersa as the male and female divinities derived from
the original fetish.6 Axieros, says the scholiast, is Demeter,
1Strabo, X, 3, 7, p. 466.
2

Photius s.v. KdlceLpoL;C.I.G. 3538.

3 I, 917.
4The first part of the account is incorrectlyattributed to Mnaseas of Patara.
For a full discussionof the question, see Pettazzoni, 'Le origini dei Kabiri nelle
isole del Mar Tracio' (Mem. Acc. Lincei, Serie Quinta, XII, 1909, p. 651 ff.).
Perhaps, therefore, Dionysodorus was responsiblefor both statements.
5 Schweitzer,op. cit. p. 41, explains &4iveas the single-, not the double-axe.
That it differed from the 7rkXEKvs
is clear, but the definition of Hesychius who

calls it 61tarouos
would seem decisive.
7r-XEKvW

Herodotus

(VII, 64) may, perhaps,furnish a clue, for he enumerates


among the weapons of the Scythians fltvas aaycpLs,

defining the foreign word by a Greek synonym. The


adyaprs, as we have seen (p. 31), is the weapon of the

Amazons,who are depictedas armed now with a doubleaxe, again with an axe of which one side is a curved
pick. Yet an epigram (A. P. VI, 94) which describes
various offerings made to Cybele numbers among these adyapLv &Et0ern4a.

We may infer, then, that both the givr and the adyape could vary in form,
being sometimes double-edgedand sometimes of the pickaxe shape. So Dionysus is called 7r-XEKvs,but also &Eosraipos.
6

Several suggestions in this direction have been made. Thus Bloch in his

article on Megaloi Theoi in Roscher's Lex. Myth. p. 2526, suggests lp~s as

the last part of the compound Axieros. Milani in the course of his brilliant
but frequently erratic series of articles ('I Dattili d'Ilio', in Studi e M2ateriali
di archeologiae numismatica,III, 1905, p. 283) declares: "In Samotracia, a
Imbro e Lemno, primo Dattilo

6 'A~tiepos,1' &tive ed

&`cov.del mondo (= lm-

bramos); secondo Dattilo 'Ab6KEpOS,


la folgore, il fuoco (= Hephaistos-Kadmilos), terzo Dattilo 'A~cokpaa,la terra colpita o animata dall'asta o dalla folgore cosmica (=r grap o Demeter)". Apparently unaware of Milani's
conjectures, Cook in the Transactions of the Third International Congress for

THE DEITIES OF THE SACRED AXE

49

(i.e. the Great Mother in fetish form); Axiokersa is Persephone,


(her daughter and double); Axiokersos is Hades (the male half
of Persephone). 1
As has been frequently noticed, two glosses of Hesychius assist us in discovering the meaning of Axiokersos and Axiokersa.
K~paat he defines by rTEElY, Kb6laL,
yajiucaa, and Kiparsby y~,os.
It would seem, then, that the two divinities are primarily "He
that smiteth with the axe," and "She that smiteth with the axe."
That an lEps -y&pos could be symbolized

by the stroke of the

lightning which cleaves the earth, I have noted above. This


would explain the secondary definition, yawuaaL, and would
admit the possibility that Axiokersos and Axiokersa, as Cook
suggests, might later become a pair of deities united in sacred
marriage, so that Axiokersa would ultimately be regarded as a
passive epithet, "She who is smitten." 2
But on the authority of Dionysodorus, the scholiast reports a
fourth Cabir on Samothrace',-Casmilus or Hermes. From the
phrasing of the statement, this deity would seem to be a comparatively late and subordinate addition to the triad, an impression
which is confirmed by Varro's words: Casmil[l]us nominatur
the History of Religions,II, p. 194, acutely remarks: "May we not venture to
suppose that 'A~6Kepoo, "He who cleaves with the axe," and 'ABLoKkpca,"She

who is cleft with the axe" are early titles for the Bridegroomand the Bride?
At least the derivation from &biv, "an axe", and KkpaaL, "to cleave" seems

clear enough." It will be noted that both Cook and Milani translateAxiokersos actively and Axiokersapassively, a dangerousprocedure. More correct is
Eisler ('Kuba-Kybele', PhilologusLXVIII, 1909, p. 178, n. 175), who appears
to imagine that he is translating Cook.

".

..

'AfKepoos

und

'AfLoKp~pa

(Axt-hauerund Axthauerin,A. B. Cook) und Axieros(heiligeAxt schlechthin)".


He then explains the triad as "Zeus Hacrds, Attis und Kybele,-Aiva, TurkTeisbas und Pro." As my own interpretationdiffers from any of those cited,
and as I reachedmy conclusionindependently,my results may, perhaps,have
an interest of their own.
1It is rather interesting to rememberthat the old oath of Solon inscribedon
wooden pillars, was an oath by the rp~esO8El,Hicesius, Catharsius, and Exacester, and that Cook has conjecturedthat these pillars representedin reality
the triple Zeus. (Class. Rev. XVIII, 1904, pp. 85 f.). Is, then, their name,
&fov~s,significant, and also the term for the later prisms which replaced
them,-Kppf~EL?

galoi Theoi".

(cf. K6pvuas=Assyr. kurubu, "mighty", and "Cabiri", "MeSee Eisler, op. cit. p. 173, n. 164). The KbpP/es were the dis-

covery of the Cretan Corybants (Theophr. Porph. Abst. 2, 21; Schol. Ayes,
1354; Phot.

s.v.

KipfELS).

SO Caelum and Terra are identified with the "Di Magni". (Serv. on
Aen. III, 12).
2

50

MARGARET. C. WAITES

Samothrace[s] mysteriis dius quidam amminister diis magnis.'


His presence may be explained on the theory that the triad of the
Double-Axe and its anthropomorphized representatives at times
developed into a quadruple cult by the recognition of the fetish
itself as a deity combining male and female elements and, therefore, resolvable into two separate divinities, a male and a female.
That such a process was taking place is proved in the cult of
Samothrace by the identification of Axieros with Demeter. The
next step would be the addition of the divine Son or Lover,
Casmilus, differentiated from Axiokersos by his age.2
The combination of this divine Son with the divine Father
would account for the deities worshipped on Samothrace as Dionysus and Zeus, and at Thebes as Dionysus-Cabirus and 6 irais.3
Other trinities might be formed from the group. The Chablais marble in the Vatican 4 represents a term with three faces,Axiokersos, Axiokersa, Casmilus,--resembling the types of Dionysus, Kore, and Hermes,-while beneath they are interpreted
by figures of Apollo, Aphrodite, and Eros, the last of whom we
have seen issuing from the head of Mother Earth.
A later development would be represented by the report in
the Etymologicum Gudianum according to which the Cabiri were
regarded merely as the attendants of the Great Mother or primal deity of the Axe. At Thebes we may remember the significant combination which appears in the name Demeter Cabiria.
Lemnos also recalls the deities of the Axe. Hephaestus, father
of the Lemnian Cabiri, carries as his attribute the hammer, in
some cases the double-axe.5 Suggestive, also is Pliny's mention
1Ling. Lat. VII, 103. So the Gnostics worshipped Father, Mother, Son,
SandChristus, their messenger. Legge, Forerunnersand Rivals of Christianity,
II, pp. 64 ff.
2
The combination of the Great Goddess and her Lover probably appears
in Pliny's account of the statues of Aphrodite and Pothos which Scopas made
for Samothrace.
3Compare the statues of Prometheus and Hephaestus in the Academy,
similarly differentiatedin age. (See p. 42.)
4Gerhard,Ant. Bildw. pl. 41. Kern in his article 'Kabeiros und Kabeiroi'
(Pauly-Wissowa,Realencycl.p. 1447), doubts the identificationof the figureson
the Chablaismarblewith the Cabiri. It is acceptedby Furtwiingler(Roscher's
Lex. Myth. I, 1341), and Walters (J.H.S. XIII, 1892-3, p. 85).
5 L. von Schroeder, GriechischeGlitteru. Heroen, erstes Heft, Aphrodite,
Eros, u. Hephistos, p. 88; Cook, Zeus, I, p. 216, n. 2. Velchanushas the double-axe on a Cretan inscription discovered by Halbherr (Farnell, op. cit.
389, n. a). With the Cabiri as lrpblroXoL,
cf. the Maruts, attendants of

THE DEITIES OF THE SACRED AXE

51

of a labyrinth on Lemnos.1 Cabiro, wife of Hephaestus on


Lemnos, is plainly 'The Cabira', the Great Mother.
We have now attempted to explain the origin of the Cabiri
conceived as (1) a trinity, (2) a group of four deities, (3) two male
deities differing in age, (4) an indefinite number of propoloi.
As we noted, the Great Gods received worship also as twin
brethren identified with the Dioscuri. This aspect of their cult
deserves particular attention, because it involves a triad of
peculiar nature.
I have previously 2 tried to show how the divinity of the doubleaxe was frequently accompanied by twin assessors, perhaps derived from the sacred posts of a shrine, and how these twin fetishes may have developed into the Dioscuri. To call such a
collocation of deities a triad would be misleading. It differs from
the examples we have been discussing because of the supreme importance of the central figure, and the subordinate character of
the other two, who resemble each other,3 but not the greater
deity. That at times this group might become confused with a
genuine triad, I shall presently try to prove.
It was probably comparatively late in the history of the
Cabiric cults that the Dioscuri or twin assessors of the doubleaxe became confused with the Cabiri. Fritze 4 has shown how
on coins figuring the Cabiri the type develops in the third century B.C., by the gradual evolution from a Cabiric duality of a
bearded man and a youth to a Dioscuric duality of twin youths
who finally usurp the Cabiric title of Megaloi Theoi. The
development reaches its culmination about 200 B.c.
With the confusion of Dioscuri and Cabiri, a new sort of triad
Indra, describedby von Schroeder,Mysteriumund Mimus, p. 50, as youths of
equal age armed as warriors,sometimes with golden axes.
1N. H. XXXVI, 90, if, indeed, the report is correct. See Pettazzoni, p. 712,
n. 9 and Cook Zeus, I, p. 483, n. 12.
2A.J.A. XXIII, 1919, pp. 1 ff.
"There is, indeed, a possibility that one Dioscur may be a mere duplication
of the other, occasioned by the striving for symmetry, as in the cases where
Cybele appearswith a lion on either side, or, perhaps,by the originof the Dioscuri in subordinate son-gods, like the Babylonian Tammuz and Ningishida.
A connection with twins like Apollo-Artemismight also here be traced, for
sometimes Ningishida is represented as female, wife of Tammus, and sometimes the reverse takes place.
4'Birytis u. die Kabiren auf Miinzen', Zeitschriftf. Num. XXIV, 1903, pp.
123 f.

52

MARGARET C. WAITES

became possible. It manifests itself in the cult of Macedonia


and the tale of the three brothers. That this triad is influenced
by those in which the central, important figure has as its assessors subordinate twins, is proved by the overwhelming predominance of the third brother, the martyr.1 He occurs alone on the
coins of Thessalonica with
the ritual horn, the doubleaxe or hammer, and the ring
round the neck which Prometheus, another Cabir,2also
wears (Fig. 6).
A possible ancestor of the
FIGURE 6.-COIN
OF THESSALONICA.
third Cabir may be traced in
the tale of Trita Aptya recounted in the Rig Veda. Trita is preeminently "the Third", by whose appellation the names of his
wicked brothers, Ekata and Dvita, seem to have been suggested.3
Like the third Cabir, Trita was a martyr, pushed by his cruel
brothers into a well, from which he later rose victorious by the
favor of the gods. In both stories, the brothers are merely foils
for the hero. Grimm observes that Odhin too is "the Third
One." So Zeus is rao7rp 7rpros (Aes. Suppl. 27; Eum. 760, etc.;
Welcker, Aes. Tril. p. 101, n. 122). Here, perhaps, despite the
quantity of the first iota, belongs the much-disputed Tritogeneia.
Some foundation for the assumption of a doublet 7pTroS-7PLroS
is
afforded by words like 7prvaKpis, 7pLvaKLfl,rpivaf, OpLvaKfl, Ophvaf,

but later
If this assumption is correct, Amphitrite
would meanOpvae,.4
"She who is
Third."
preeminently
Modern folklore shows the same emphasis in the many tales of
three brothers or sisters, of whom the third and youngest invariably succeeds when the others fail. The principle of climax is,
perhaps, sufficient to account for the preference thus given to the
third place.5

1This third Cabir is properly identified by Clement with Dionysus (Protr.


2, 19, 1-4, p. 15, 1 ff. (Stithlin)).
2
Bapp, loc. cit. The wife of Prometheusbears the significantname Axiothea.
3 Kuhn in Hoefer's Zeitschriftf. die Wissenschaftd. Sprache, I, 1846, pp.
289 ff.; Usener, 'Dreiheit', p. 7.
4 Diintzer has conjectured (Zeitsch.fiir vergleich.Sprachforsch.XII, 1863,
p. 9) that the lengthening of the iota in such compounds as Tritogeneia is
purely metrical.
5 So Lang, Introd. to Cinderella,by M. R. Cox, p. xiii: "The constant preference of the youngest child, boy or girl, might conceivably point to a time

THE DEITIES OF THE SACRED AXE

53

Not invariably, however, is the third place preferred. The


Orphics termed Persephone Movoyv~rea,the "especial" or "single" daughter of Zeus.1 Possibly an attempt to harmonize the
two views may be detected in the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite,
22 ff., where Hestia is called both eldest and youngest daughter
of Cronus.2
A combination of a different sort meets us when we consider
the Curetes and Corybantes. That both are forms of the
father-god is plain from ancient information. In the case of the
Corybantes, the male deity manifests himself in his subordinate
rale of partner and attendant. Julian 3 speaks of one Corybas
whom he calls 6 cbvOpovos -i M~ripl Kal
Cybele, acoUvv5?tuovpycyiv.
cording to Diodorus,4 was the mother of this eponymous Corybas
by the hero Iasion. In Orphic Hymn XXXIX, he appears (in
connection with Deo, another aspect of the Mother), as a snake,
a'shape which was frequently assumed by the consort of the
Goddess.
But the Curetes and Corybantes manifest the same instability
in numbers which we observed when dealing with the Cabiri.
In the very oration which praises the one Corybas, Julian implies
that the Corybantes are three.5 Frequently regarded as indefinite 'rpbTroXoL,
the Corybantes became a triple triad,6 or seven,7
or ten.8 Their name, if properly connected with Assyrian
kurubu, 'great', would again identify them as forms of Zeus
Megisteus, attendants of the Great Mother.
The Curetes likewise were forms of Zeus, himself the Koures,
when the youngest child was the heir, as in Borough English: a very widespreadcustom, . . . Besides, in adventures,if there is to be accumulating
interest, someone must;fail; the elder sons would attempt the adventure first:
consequently the youngest must be the successfulhero."
1

Legge, op. cit. I, p. 124.

MovoyEyvs is an epithet also of Hecate (Hesiod,

Theog.426, 448), and Athena (OrphicHymn, XXXII, 1).


2
Hestia herself is, of course, a form of the mother-goddess. It is no accident that Cinderella, Cinderlad, and other worthies are so closely connected
with the hearth. They are children of very ancient lineage.
SOr.V, 167b.
4V, 49, 2; Kore according to Serv. Leid. on Virg. Aen. III, 111.
.
.o.
5 168b:
.
"yErv3 wroaqdTaELr

KoppavTres,

ac TpEls

&pxal KrL TWd ET&

eo~
Kp(o KpE

In Orphic-Pythagoreanmysticism, the number nine was the


7 Nonnus Dionysiaca, XIII, 135 ff.
8
Schol. Plat. Sympos. 215e; Suidassav.

KopbjpaVrvE.

KoupTris.

7
vw6v

54

MARGARET C. WAITES

or divine youth.1 The names of the first two of the three Carian
Curetes, Panamoros, Labrandos, and Palaxos, or Spalaxos,2 are
cult-titles
of Zeus.
Labrandos is of course
the god of the doubleaxe.3
With these deities
may be compared
*CI)
;5~
the
three Cabiri of
?,
~
Lemnos, whose fem1WY/f;i~TiiTn\tr,
inine counterparts
are the three Cabiric
nymphs. These in
I
turn remind us of
I~
the three dancing
maidens who surround the shrines of
Hecate,4 and sometimes possess the
attributes of Hecate
herself.
FIGURE 7.-THE
THREE DIOSCURIC
BROTHERS: ETRUSCAN MIRROR.
On Etruscan mirrors
(Fig. 7), the three
Dioscuric brothers, identified by Gerhard with the three Cabiri,
1 Miss Harrison, in B.S.A. XV,
1908-9, pp. 308 ff.; Themis, ch. 1; Prolegomena, pp. 499 ft. See also Cook, Zeus I, pp. 647 ff.
Cf. also Eisler, op. cit. p. 126, n. 27.
2 Etym. Mag. s.v. Eliwvos.
3 The Telchines, Dactyls and Titans, though their relation with the Cabiri
is more remote than that of the Curetes, Corybants and Dioscuri, were all
connected with the deities of the Axe. Thus two of the Telchines, Antaeus
and Megalesius,bear names which are really appellationsof the Great Mother.
Rhea entrusted to their care the infant Poseidon. Strabo identifies the Telchines with the Curetes (X, 472). According to the author of ) TEXXPLwaKc
Laroplc (Athen. VII, 282e) they were the sacred fish created from the blood of

Uranus together with Aphrodite. On the fish as an emblem of the Mother


Goddess, see Evans, Palace of Minos, p. 635. The Dactyls were alternatives
for the Curetes as nurses of Zeus. (Paus. V, 7, 6). Apollonius Rhodius (I,
of the Idaean Mother, and identi1125) names Titias and Cyllenius as dripe6pot
fies them with the Cretan Dactyls. For the Titans, sons of Uranus and Ge,
as worshippersof Dionysus, see Cook, Zeus I, 655, and on their (probablylate)
association with the Cabirisee Pettazzoni, op. cit. pp. 687 f. In a Pergamene
oracle, they appear as attendants at the birth of Zeus. (Kaibel, Epigr. Gr.
zur Ges. der gr. Phil. u. Relig. p. 108.)
1035; Kern, Beitrdage,
4 Petersen, Arch.-Ep. Mitth. aus Oesterreich,
1881, pp. 26 ft.

THE DEITIES OF THE SACRED AXE

55

support my theory of the origin of this triad in a confusion of a


"Dioscuric" with a "Cabiric" or "Corybantic" trinity. A like
amalgamation may meet us in Mithraic cult when the twin
torch-bearers, Cautes and Cautopates, become epithets of Mithras
TpL~rXcaLos.'

The Cabiri as mere 7rp6rokoL perhaps occur on the relief from


Hierapolis in Phrygia 2 representing four youths, with the characteristic attributes of neck-rings, loin-cloths, and double-axes,
and in the similar group of five youths from Uziimli near Magnesia, four of whom carry a hammer.3
No wonder that Pausanias halts among the Dioscuri, Curetes,
and Cabiri in his attempt to explain the nature of the Anaktes
Paides of Amphissa,4 or that he was puzzled by the four small
bronzes, one of Athena and three resembling the Dioscuri which
he saw on the headland at Brasiae.5 We fall back with relief
upon the essential rightness of the good Strabo: 6 "The reports
about the Curetes seem to resemble . . . the story told
about the Satyrs and Sileni and Bacchi and Titures. For they
who hand down to us the Cretan and Phrygian traditions say
that the Curetes are demons or attendants of the gods, something
like these. ..
. Some declare that the Curetes are the same
as the Corybants and Cabirs and Idaean Dactyls and Telchines;
others that they are all related, but have little differences between
their natures . . . being all given to Bacchic frenzy, .
so that these holy rites are in a manner connected with those of
the Samothracians and those on Lemnos and many others; because they say that the attendant deities are the same."
Beginning with the worship of the double-axe as a symbol of
the Great Mother, I have endeavoured to trace the transitions
by which it became the property of the Father, and signified
his ability to fertilize the Earth through lightning.
I then proceeded to explain, by reference to the double-axe
1Cumont, Textes et MonumentsFigures relatifs aux Mystbresde Mithra, I,
p. 208.

Ant. Skulp. Berlin, p. 386 f. No. 953.


158 f.
' X, 38, 7.
5 III, 24, 5.
2

3 Kern, StrenaHelbigiana,pp.

6 X, 3, 7, p. 466.

MARGARET C. WAITES

56

fetish, duplications like the double Athenas and the dyad of


Demeter and Kore, those which differ in sex like Apollo and
Artemis, and lastly those representing two male divinities.
The members of the "family trinity" of Father, Mother, and
Child may likewise be associated with the double-axe, and from
this basic trinity numerous combinations may be developed,
some of them even involving a quadruple cult.
Applying these suggestions to the cult of the Cabiri and those
of the Curetes and Corybants, I tried to trace in all these mysteries the presence of the deities of the double-axe.
The importance of the sacred symbol itself, much as I have
emphasized it, fades into insignificance beside the belief for which
it stands,-a faith which may well be called fundamental, in the
great Earth-Goddess,-Mother,
Queen, and Ultimate Home of
all mankind.
MARGARET

MOUNT HOLYOKE COLLEGE


SOUTH

HADLEY,

MASS.

C.

WAITES.